Reviews for Brightworking

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
Mikal's sister is sure she'll get picked to be a magical apprentice, but it's eleven-year-old blacksmith-in-training Mikal who is whisked away to study with the sorcerers' Guild of Constant Working. He finds himself apprenticed to a wizard embroiled in a dangerous scheme. Thompson's fantasy world is well realized--hopefully, characters will be better fleshed out in the next book.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 June #2
A blacksmith's son becomes a wizard's apprentice in this uncomplicated series opener. Illiterate Mikal is snatched from his home village and pressed into service oiling bookbindings for the urban magicians of the Guild of Constant Working. Shortly thereafter, he is promoted to librarian/copyist for Harlano, the Guild's cruel and remote head. The obligatory quest begins with a revelation that all the world's magic is metal "brightworking," derived from a lost meteoric "Brightstone." Supposedly lost, that is--before sending Mikal and company into subsequent episodes (at least two more are planned), Thompson clumsily provides a huge and obvious clue to its whereabouts that his characters miss but readers won't. Mikal acquires rudimentary reading skills along the way, as well as a quick-witted if mouthy sidekick named Lyra and Orichalkon, a babbling but extremely well-informed clockwork talking head. With their help, he escapes Harlano's repeated efforts to do him in on the way to a massive fire and an invasion of the city that put him and his companions on the road. Comfortably predictable fare for younger fans and those who prefer their fantasy charged with standard themes and tropes. (Fantasy. 9-11) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2012 August

Gr 4-7--Selected by a magician in the annual Gleaning, 11-year-old Mikal must leave behind his work in his father's blacksmith forge to become part of the Guild of Constant Working in the great city of Oranbold in the realm of Phalia. The boy's ability to resist certain spells draws attention from Master Harlano, the high wizard of Oranbold. After a literal trial by fire, Mikal is made his apprentice. With him is Lyra, a brash, self-interested girl who ultimately proves to be a friend. Together, they discover Orichalkon, a talking metal head made long ago to collect and store information. As Mikal becomes more aware of the political situation in the Guild and in Phalia, he realizes that Harlano has his own dangerous ambitions that are in stark contrast to the other Guild Masters. The boy is a complete novice in the world of magic, so he serves as a conduit for readers into this new fantasy world. A capable individual, he is eager to learn how to read and becomes interested in the connection between metal and magic. This slim volume will appeal to readers who prefer their fantasy at a manageable length; however, it is almost too short. Large chunks of time pass in a sentence when readers may wish for more plot or character development. Still, the stage is set nicely for the next chapter of Mikal and Lyra's adventure. Purchase where fantasy is in high demand.--Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL

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VOYA Reviews 2012 June
In this disappointing first novel in a projected trilogy, Thompson (a long-time veteran of the Dragonlance series) sticks all too closely to the standard tropes of his magical fantasy genre. In the annual "gleaning," a young boy from a rural village, Mikal, is chosen by the Wizard's Guild and quickly finds himself apprenticed to the head of the guild. With help only from his sassy friend, Lyra, and a strange metallic head, Mikal is abruptly thrust into a world of political and magical intrigue. Instead of serving as a comfortably familiar basis from which to display the author's gifts, the plot quickly becomes tiresome as it meanders from one overused plot point to another, to no apparent overarching purpose. Worse, the characters, particularly Mikal and Lyra, when they are not merely ciphers, are as clichéd as the plot points. Thompson's prose is perhaps the highlight, remaining generally sturdy, though even here he occasionally stumbles into awkward and infelicitous phrasing, especially in dialogue, where he falls back on the perennial pseudo-medieval language of fantasy books everywhere. Fans of Lloyd Alexander, Garth Nix, or Terry Pratchett might find it interesting to trace all of the novel's influences, but if Thompson has any new ideas to bring to the genre, he has unwisely left them for later books in the series.--Mark Flowers 1Q 2P M Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.